A Teacher's Day

The day in the life of an inner city large urban school district teacher after the high stakes testing ends and there is still three more months left before summer vacation.

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

I have taught school for over thirty years always in the inner city and for the most part always upper grade students. I have two children and I have been married for twenty years.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Today is the first day of the ISAT, Illinois's high stake testing. My sixth graders need to do well on this test or they need to have a C average or better on their report cards. If they do not have one or the other, they must go to summer school in order to pass. The problem is that most of the twenty sixth graders in my split sixth/seventh grade class have already failed once--a few twice--and most of the failures came in sixth grade.

Research has shown repeating a grade does not make a better student. Most of the time it's just the opposite. This class came to me with a reputation of disruption, walking out of classrooms, and fighting. I stopped the walking out of classrooms and fighting fairly quickly by posting the rules including my favorite: "Field trips for the month will be canceled if there is a fight by any student from our room. They will also be canceled if anyone walks out of a class without the teachers permission." Now the class takes care of itself. We almost had a fight last week, but most of the students made sure it did not happen--and only a few minutes were wasted.

My partner in the upper grade cycle is afraid a few of the sixth graders have no chance of doing well on the ISAT math portion. (She has been responsible for teaching math all year.) One girl in particular already failed once in third grade. She still cannot divide, multiply two numbers times two number or subtract when regrouping is required. The students do get to use a caculator during the test, but she does not even understand how to set up a division problem. When sonmeone makes it to sixth grade and still cannot subtract 28 from 106 (her answer was 122), I get a bit frightened too.

The principal after discussing it with her administrative staff felt the students should take one test a day stretching the test period into two weeks. I'm not so sure about this. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Today is also the primary elections. They're being held in the gym. All in all this promises to be an interesting day.


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